Tim Alberta, “American Carnage”

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45:51
Giller ISM in America and so I think
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that obviously did lend an added sense
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of urgency to the 2016 election and let
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me answer your first question by
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mentioning somebody else who’s vital to
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this entire narrative arc and that’s
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Mitch McConnell because let let me say
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this and and you certainly you’re
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certainly free to disagree but but we
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would not have president Donald Trump
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today he would not have won the election
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in 2016
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had that Supreme Court seat not been
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dangled out in front of voters in
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November of 2016 by blocking hearings on
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on Merrick garland President Obama’s
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nominee to fill that Supreme Court seat
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when Antonin Scalia very unexpectedly
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died in 2015 by by blocking hearings and
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not allowing Merrick garland to be
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confirmed Mitch McConnell helped Donald
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Trump to mobilize untold numbers of
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voters who may not have been willing to
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turn out and vote for Donald Trump
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otherwise and Mitch McConnell’s the
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first person to realize that he and I
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had a discussion about this in detail
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when you think about the fact that
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Donald Trump won the presidency by three
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states Michigan Wisconsin and
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Pennsylvania by a combined margin of
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seventy seven thousand seven hundred and
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forty four votes and when you look at
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the exit polling in those states and the
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issues that were most important to
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people and when you see that somewhere
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between 18 and 22 percent of the
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Republican voters in those states said
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that their number one issue was judges
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do the math Mitch McConnell whether you
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love him or hate him whether you are a
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die-hard liberal or a bleeding-heart
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conservative Mitch McConnell
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absolutely delivered the white house to
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Donald Trump by holding open that
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judicial vacancy and traditionally I
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think we all can recognize those of us
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who pay a lot of attention to politics
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those nerds among us that conservatives
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traditionally are much more invested in
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the judiciary than our Democrats and
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that is a big source of concern right
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now on the left you have some ascendant
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groups now trying to match on the left
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sort of the apparatus that has been
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built out on the right with the
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Federalist Society and others but to
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answer your question absolutely the
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judiciary was critical to the outcome in
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twenty
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Dean yes sir I’m curious if during your
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reporting you you spoke to any Democrats
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who had some some regret or even just
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self-reflection about the attacks they
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leveled on John McCain and Mitt Romney
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in o8 in 2012 in the sense that when
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they leveled largely the same attacks
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against Donald Trump they sort of came
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off as the boy who cried wolf that is an
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excellent excellent excellent question
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and the answer is yes look folks
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MIT Romney in 2012 Jake Tapper at CNN
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said said this to me once and I thought
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it was perfectly put at least through
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the prism of the mainstream media and
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the media perception of MIT Romney in
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2012 he was the dog torturing robber
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baron and by 2016 he was the white
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knight of the Republican Party and what
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changed right what changed during that
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period
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look Mitt Romney like any candidate for
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high office should be held to a high
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standard but the obsessive coverage of
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Mitt Romney’s sort of weirdness his
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other nests
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you know he irons his jeans he said that
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his wife owns a couple of Cadillacs you
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know look we all get it that you know he
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as he said self-deprecating Lee when he
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was wearing a tuxedo at one of these
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white tie dinners he said finally I get
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to wear something out in public that we
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wear around the house right and he got
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it right but it was almost to the point
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it was almost to the point of absolute
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absurdity by the end of the 2012
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campaign and as you may recall there was
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this presidential debate with Barack
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Obama in which Mitt Romney was asked
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about needing to diversify the federal
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workforce and specifically why there
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aren’t more women in high-ranking
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government positions and Romney offered
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this very very interesting well thought
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answer about how when he was governor of
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Massachusetts he had made that a top
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priority and that it heard him how
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whenever he was attempting to fill a top
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staff position that all these resumes on
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his desk were men and so he went to his
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chief of staff who was a woman and he
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said look I want to get more qualified
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women into these positions and as he’s
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answering this question
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Romney then says and she did and she
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wanted bringing me these whole binders
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full
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women now to any reasonable person who
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was listening to that you think man
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that’s good for him it was a really
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thoughtful substantive answer and for
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the next 96 hours all you heard was Mitt
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Romney as a misogynist and Mitt Romney
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doesn’t know how to talk to women and
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Mitt Romney is weird and awkward and
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look folks I am just sitting here
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telling you I travel to 38 states in
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2016 covering the campaign I’ve talked
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to a lot of voters I will tell you
beyond a shadow of a doubt that the
desensitisation people have begun to
feel especially conservatives who feel
like the media is always beating up on
their guys
they have been numbed to it and when
2016 came around these criticisms of
Donald Trump oh he’s immoral
oh he’s unethical oh he’s a hypocrite
he’s a womanizer he does and says these
disgusting vulgar things they fell on
deaf ears for a lot of voters they tuned
us out and that is something I also
touch on in the book I think it’s really
important to understand the role that
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the media and public perception plays in
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all of this and this book is not meant
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to hold up a mirror just to Donald Trump
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and just to the Republican Party it’s
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meant to hold up a mirror to all of us
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because I think every single person
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sitting in this room can probably do a
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little bit of soul-searching and a
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little bit of reflecting on how we got
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to this point the role that we all may
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have played in it either individually or
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collectively I I have two related
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questions one is to what degree did in
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terms of victory and moving forward will
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vote suppression and gerrymandering be a
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factor in keeping the Republican
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majority moving forward or not not
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majority but being able to hold the
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White House and the Senate second is
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what accounts for the Republican Party
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which has been chronicled in books like
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chain reaction and Nixon land you know
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maximizing racial resentment in
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dog-whistle racism to the now bullhorn
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races and we have with Trump what
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accounts for that transition boy two two
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good and complicated questions the
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simple answer I can give to the first
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one is that obviously Republicans were
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able to move right pretty systematically
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as a party after 2010 not just because
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of the takeover in Congress but
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because of the takeover in state
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legislatures across the country and
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rebuy regaining the ability to draw the
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maps in many of these states they were
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able to structurally get a foothold and
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solidify their power now the 2020 census
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is coming and there will be an
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opportunity for Republicans and
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Democrats alike to fight for the ability
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to draw those maps and that is a huge
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focus right now obviously for Democrats
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who feel as though they have been
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targeted systematically and very
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effectively by these Republican
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gerrymanders I should remind everyone
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that political power but political
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parties exist to promote and protect
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their own power and the Democrats have
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been known to do a little bit of
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gerrymandering themselves and as
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high-minded as I would like to be about
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this process in these calls for reform I
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will believe that Democrats after
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winning back some of these state houses
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will not abuse the gerrymandering power
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when I see it because if you look at
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some states like Maryland it’s a bit of
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a Picasso painting I if I were king for
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a day I’d wave a magic wand and we would
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have a nonpartisan redistricting
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commission every state in America we
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would redraw as many of these lines as
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close to 50/50 as possible not because
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it would give us a bunch of mushy
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moderates
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but because we could actually have a
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debate of ideas let me say this really
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quickly because it shocks people when I
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say it I give talks all the time about
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Congress and when I say this it blows
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people away
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Democrats flipped 40 seats last November
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right that’s a wave election by
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anybody’s metric 40 seats is a big deal
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it is a sweeping rebuke to the
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president’s party and yet how many
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voting members are there in the House of
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Representatives anybody for 35 what is
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40 out of 435 but eight and a half
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percent okay you go back to 2010 biggest
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wave election we’ve seen in our
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lifetimes anybody remember how many
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Republican pickups there were in 2010 63
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oh man 63 Republican pickups in 2010
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biggest wave election we’ve ever seen in
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our lifetimes
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what’s 63 out of 435 s about 14% I
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cheated I’m not that good at math I
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promise I’ve memorized these things the
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point I’m trying to make to you is that
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in the biggest wave election we’d ever
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seen in our lifetimes in 2010
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86% of the seats in the US House of
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Representatives remained loyally
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partisan locked down by one of these two
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parties and in 2018 went another big
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wave election 92% of them roughly
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remained locked down by one or the other
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party what does that tell you it tells
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you that the overwhelming majority of
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the elected officials we send to
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Washington are not chosen in November
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they are chosen in their primaries and
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what do we know about primary turnout
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well in your average off your
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congressional primary election turnout
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is gonna be somewhere between seven and
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fourteen percent and who are the seven
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to fourteen percent who are turning out
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to vote in those primaries are they the
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very reasonable persuadable moderates in
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the middle of the electorate who just
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want you know competent governance and
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who are willing to listen to arguments
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on both sides generally not into your
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uncle who sends the weird emails and
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your colleague who posts the crazy stuff
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on Facebook right and God bless them
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because at least they’re engaged with
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the process but why aren’t the rest of
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us we keep sending these people back to
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Congress and expecting a different
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result Congress has a huge personnel
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problem and a big reason why is because
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so many of the people we send there the
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overwhelming majority of the people we
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send there are elected in primaries and
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when you never face a general election
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thread in your district
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what is the only incentive you have it
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is to protect yourself in a primary and
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when you are oriented as a lawmaker
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toward protecting your flank and a
56:03
primary every day you wake up it’s gonna
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have some really bad results for the
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country and as more’d as we are you got
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me on a tangent here but as worried as
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we all may be about the executive branch
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and some of its unsteadiness right now
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the legislative branch in my opinion is
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a much bigger concern because the
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presidency is a transient office Trump
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will come and go but the legislative
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branch of the federal government is is
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structurally in deep deep trouble and it
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there’s no end in sight for it to the
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second question really quickly about the
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racial dog whistling look I just
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mentioned what happened last night as
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you said it’s not a dog whistle at this
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point it’s just not and Donald Trump is
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obsessed with the base Jonathan you know
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this better than anybody if you talk to
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people around the president he talks
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incessantly about the base and when he
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talks about the base he is talking
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generally very narrowly
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about the core people in his who come to
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his rallies who wear the maggot hats
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these typically tend to be your
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blue-collar your more rural and exurban
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middle and working class Americans white
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evangelical in many cases and they are
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the true believers right they are the
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people who are with Trump no matter what
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as he said if he shot somebody on Fifth
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Avenue they’d still be behind him but
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what Trump is missing is that with
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incidents last night with every one base
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voter who he may be mobilizing he’s
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probably also alienating a suburban
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college-educated
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socially moderate Republican who wants
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tax cuts and they may even want
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conservative judges but they’re scared
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out of their mind by what they saw last
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night you know there’s an old saying in
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Republican campaigns why would a
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Republican ever go address the
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n-double-a-cp a Republican presidential
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candidate dress the n-double-a-cp
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because you’re not gonna pick up any
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more black votes and the answer is
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always it’s not to pick up black votes
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it’s to pick up the votes of white
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suburban nights who want to see you
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engage with the n-double-a-cp
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politics is a coalition business and
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Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016
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not just because of his base that we all
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love to read about and all of these
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stories from middle America about the
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you know auto mechanic in the diner in
58:15
Ohio somewhere those people matter
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obviously and they are you know big
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supporters of the president but the
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president won his campaign because he
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had overwhelming support of these
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traditionally Republicans suburban
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moderates and what do we know we know
58:30
that in 2016 they voted for him and we
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also know that in 2018 by virtue of this
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Democratic takeover at least a
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significant chunk of those traditionally
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Republican suburban moderates they
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flipped they voted for Democrats in the
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suburbs from Salt Lake City to Orange
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County to Detroit to Atlanta all across
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the country so Donald Trump is playing
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with fire here and it’s not just because
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he’s mobilizing the Democratic base it’s
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because he is potentially alienating
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that other half of his coalition that he
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needs to win in 2020 thank you so much
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sure we are running out of time but I
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want to take these last three questions
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here if that last two questions here if
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that’s I’m sorry I’m giving very long
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answers
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hi this may be beside the point at this
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point but during the campaign I always
59:16
thought that Donald Trump’s hope for
59:20
outcome would be to win the popular vote
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and lose the electoral vote and he could
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go back to his business and say he was
59:27
cheated and you know not be worried with
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the running of the government because he
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didn’t obviously prepare anything for a
59:35
transition and election night he looked
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pretty shocked and like he didn’t want
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this well I would draw a distinction and
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I want you to weigh in this also I would
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draw a distinction between not wanting
59:48
to win and not expecting to win because
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I did an awful lot of reporting on this
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and I was never able to find anybody who
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could credibly tell me that he did not
59:59
want to win Donald Trump is a very
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competitive guy and we had to listen for
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18 months to all of these talking heads
60:05
on cable tell us that this was just to
60:07
promote his hotel that this was just to
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get his name back in the news that he
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just loves the reality TV glare that
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Donald Trump was gonna drop out before
60:15
the Iowa caucuses he didn’t actually
60:16
want to be President what all of that
60:19
missed is that Trump is a fiercely
60:20
competitive individual and that he loves
60:22
the grind of competition I don’t think
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that Donald Trump expected to win and
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matter of fact all of my reporting tells
60:30
me that he did not expect to win as I
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say in describing election night in the
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book Trump had to pretty quickly rewrite
60:36
his election night speech because he did
60:38
not have a victory speech prepared
60:40
and when Reince Priebus whispered in his
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ear in one of their little war rooms I
60:44
think you’re gonna win everybody in the
60:46
room sort of stopped and time Stood
60:48
Still and Trump said okay we got to go
60:50
upstairs we got to go to the residence I
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don’t have a speech so Donald Trump from
60:58
everything I know was certainly not
61:00
expecting to win the presidency because
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he could see the same polling that we
61:04
all saw and not just the public polling
61:06
anybody inside of his campaign who tells
61:09
you that they thought that Donald Trump
61:10
was going to win is lying to you I’m
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telling you that straight up and that
61:13
includes Steve man and who loves to go
61:14
around telling everybody the Trump was
61:16
gonna win he knew it from day one it’s
61:18
nonsense okay the war
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Republican I did not interview for this
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book with Steve Bannon and Swann gave me
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a high five for that the other day
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because for crying out loud
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talk about an unreliable source so that
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is that is the distinction I would draw
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but you tell me what you think about
61:34
that shout it out I don’t know what’s
61:47
going on there he 100% wanted to win and
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you know I remember being in a barn in
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Virginia on Falls Church Virginia on
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like 1:00 a.m. or I think Sun Monday
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morning I guess last few days of the
62:04
campaign and Donald Trump was doing his
62:06
eighth rally of the day or something and
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he wanted to win he really wanted to win
62:10
as much as anything he hates to be
62:12
humiliated people close to him believe
62:14
that he entered the campaign really is a
62:17
promotional vehicle one person close to
62:19
him told me he described it as the
62:21
world’s greatest infomercial but I think
62:24
one of his more revealing interviews
62:26
early on he says I think it’s worth
62:28
maybe mark Harper and he says he thinks
62:30
maybe it’s not on the record maybe
62:33
they’ve said that subsequently in public
62:35
that he thought he gave himself a 20%
62:37
chance of winning as time went on a
62:41
couple of things happened he got
62:42
addicted to the crowds and I don’t know
62:44
if people in this audience have been to
62:45
Trump rallies but I’ve been to a lot of
62:48
them and the only thing I can explain
62:50
I’ve covered politics in two countries I
62:52
have never seen a politician have such a
62:55
visceral connection with a crowd and the
62:59
only thing I can compare to is like
63:00
being in a Rolling Stones concert they
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know the lyrics they know the lyrics
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it’s call and response
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you know he’ll say Hillary and the crowd
63:08
will just immediately start chanting
63:10
lock her up he’ll say the media the
63:12
crowd will immediately start chanting
63:14
CNN sucks it’s a drug for him and he was
63:17
intoxicated and he loved it and then as
63:20
time went on he thought well maybe I can
63:22
win I guess I’m down to the last two
63:23
Tim’s right none of them thought they
63:25
can win Steve Bannon does like to remind
63:28
me he did send an email which I still
63:30
have two weeks before the election where
63:31
he did predict all the states
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I tend to think it was bluster more than
63:35
anything but he really was saying behind
63:37
the scenes that he was gonna win if that
63:39
makes any different but other staff were
63:42
like pre briefing us as reporters and
63:44
saying here are all the reasons why he
63:46
lost this is before the election and
63:48
here’s the way you can spin it etc so
63:51
you know that that would that’s the
63:54
reality yeah to add a final really quick
63:57
thought to that I spent the final week
64:00
of October I spent that week on the
64:03
campaign plane with Vice now vice
64:05
president pence then governor pence and
64:07
I can tell you as surely as I know that
64:10
I am sitting here with you that nobody
64:13
on that plane save for maybe Mike Pence
64:16
believed that they were going to win and
64:18
it was really interesting because they
64:20
were all beginning to spin me
64:21
essentially on Mike Pence 2020 right
64:24
they were all attempting to sort of you
64:27
know polish pence as the guy who was the
64:30
stable figure in the campaign and who
64:31
rejected the ugliness and the guy who
64:33
was going to come out of this looking
64:34
good and something really interesting
64:36
happened and it happened the day after
64:40
as you may recall
64:42
Pence’s plane went off the runway at
64:45
LaGuardia and I was on that plane
64:47
and it was kind of a remarkable scene as
64:49
the Secret Service jumped up with their
64:51
pistols and hovered near pence and
64:52
nobody quite knew what the hell to make
64:54
of any of it everyone on that plane that
64:58
I was with for almost a week
64:59
all of Pence’s top staffers said the
65:02
same thing no way that we’ve seen all
65:04
the numbers he cannot win Trump cannot
65:06
win on the last day I was with them we
65:10
had to get on a different plane that
65:12
didn’t have Wi-Fi because of the earlier
65:14
night’s incident and just as our plane
65:17
was coming down into Pennsylvania
65:19
dipping into cellphone range every
65:22
single person’s plane on the phone blew
65:24
up with an alert that James Comey had
65:28
sent a letter to Congress reopening the
65:32
investigation into Hillary Clinton’s
65:33
emails and I will tell you it’s
65:35
indelible in my mind I can see it today
65:38
there weren’t many of us on the plane
65:40
there were five reporters I believe in
65:41
four or five Secret Service and the Vice
65:43
President and five or six of his staff
65:45
were all
65:46
they’re clustered and I’m telling you
65:48
kid on Christmas morning does not begin
65:50
to describe the looks on the faces of
65:52
the pants people because for the first
65:54
time in the entire campaign there was a
65:56
flicker of hope however fleeting but a
65:59
flicker of hope that oh my goodness can
66:01
you believe our luck we might actually
66:03
win and I will remember that until the
66:05
day I die yes sir it’s my recollection
66:08
on the day the Access Hollywood tapes
66:10
were released the emails for John
66:14
Podesta were released like half a day
66:17
later I think so that that was another
66:18
factor in place but my question is why
66:21
is my conservative brother forgotten
66:23
that he’s an anti-communist you’re
66:24
suspicious of Russia
66:26
you know the Russia thing is actually
66:28
really fascinating because you will hear
66:31
a lot of Republican defenders of the
66:33
president say you know focus on what
66:35
this administration does not on what he
66:38
says and I think that by and large
66:42
that’s nonsense
66:43
I think that as I explained a minute ago
66:45
what the president says is of enormous
66:47
importance it moves markets it moves
66:49
military personnel at the president is
66:52
the most powerful person in the world
66:54
Russia is actually a pretty interesting
66:57
example of what they are talking about
66:59
however because if you were to examine
67:01
on a policy basis the administration’s
67:04
approach to Russia not his personally
67:06
but the administration’s and most
67:08
Republicans in Congress you would think
67:11
that it is a pretty typical Republican
67:13
you know cookie cutter Republican
67:15
approach to Russian relations in in
67:18
terms of sanctions in terms of some help
67:21
for allies in the region
67:23
the president’s relationship with
67:26
Vladimir Putin is so bizarre that I’m
67:29
not sure we will ever get to the bottom
67:30
of it and I’m not trying to be funny and
67:32
saying that it’s just the truth I don’t
67:33
know that we will ever understand look
67:35
and it’s not just Putin right the Donald
67:38
Trump has this affinity for strongmen
67:40
across the globe we have seen it time
67:42
and again and it is vexing not just to
67:44
us but to people in the administration I
67:46
don’t think that it will ever be
67:48
thoroughly explained but with Russia in
67:52
particular there is a huge chasm between
67:55
the president sort of playing footsies
67:57
with Vladimir Putin
67:59
and joking with him about election
68:00
interference and how he locks up
68:02
journalists ha ha isn’t that hilarious
68:03
all that stuff contrasted against the
68:06
administration itself and and the State
68:09
Department and the Republican Congress
68:10
and how they have approached Russia it
68:12
has been much more traditional so it’s a
68:15
little bit odd in that respect thank you
68:19
for coming out tonight everybody and
68:20
thank you so much for thank you guys
68:24
[Applause]

Let’s Ditch Mitch

The Senate majority leader comes out of his shell.

Mitch, on the other hand, has a longstanding alliance with the National Rifle Association, which has shown its affection to the tune of about $1.3 million in support. Anything the N.R.A. dislikes never gets the chance to come up for a Senate vote. Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act is moldering away in a corner because the N.R.A. doesn’t want authorities taking guns away from domestic abusers.

It’s been another terrible year of mass shooting violence. One simple, very popular response would be to improve the background checks for gun purchases. It would at least show our elected officials care about the crisis.

Such a bill passed the House of Representatives and went to the Senate where it’s, um, lying around somewhere. “There’s a whole bunch of Republican support, but he won’t let it move to the floor,” said minority leader Chuck Schumer.

This goes on a lot. McConnell, who has near total control over what comes up for a vote, sits on things he doesn’t like until they smother. Farewell, immigration reform, Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, lowering prescription drug prices, protecting election security, restoring net neutrality.

Cruz: GOP may block Supreme Court nominees indefinitely

In a vintage return to his confrontational style, Sen. Ted Cruz indicated that Republicans could seek to block a Democratic president from filling the vacant Supreme Court seat indefinitely.

After staking his endorsement of Donald Trump on a list of potential conservative Supreme Court nominees, Cruz said on Wednesday that there is precedent to limiting the Supreme Court to just eight justices. Last week, Cruz’s colleague, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), suggested the GOP should confirm President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, to avoid having to swallow a more liberal nominee under Hillary Clinton.

As is his nature, Cruz took a harder line when asked how Republicans would handle a potential Clinton nominee while campaigning in Colorado for Darryl Glenn, a longshot candidate for the Senate.

“There will be plenty of time for debate on that issue … There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices. I would note, just recently, that Justice [Stephen] Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have,” Cruz said, in remarks first reported by The Washington Post.

Cruz was unlikely to vote for any Democratic nominee given his conservative ideology, but his remarks could indicate a broader shift within the GOP to halt Democrats from shifting the court’s balance to the left. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said earlier this month the GOP would be “united” in blocking a Clinton appointment, remarks he later softened.

An indefinite GOP blockade of a Supreme Court nominee would almost certainly lead to an erosion in the Senate’s supermajority requirement. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has already suggested lowering the bar for Supreme Court nominee from 60 votes to a simple majority. Under Reid, Democrats changed the Senate rules to allow all nominees but Supreme Court appointments to be approved by a majority vote.

The Shifting Standards of Mitch McConnell

When it came to filling a Supreme Court vacancy during the 2016 presidential election year, Senator Mitch McConnell had a constant refrain: Let the people decide. But should a high court seat become open in 2020, Mr. McConnell has already decided himself.

Oh, we’d fill it,” Mr. McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, gleefully told a friendly Chamber of Commerce audience back home in Paducah on Tuesday.

Mr. McConnell regularly celebrates his history-altering 2016 decision to thwart President Barack Obama from filling a vacancy that occurred with 11 months remaining in his term, saying the seat should be kept open until a new president could be elected and inaugurated. But he has been laying the groundwork to change course ever since Donald J. Trump was elected president. Tuesday’s remarks were only his most definitive: He would not be bound by the standard he himself set in preventing Judge Merrick B. Garland from being seated on the high court.

The comments immediately drew howls of blatant hypocrisy from Democrats and progressive allies. They said it underscored their view that Mr. McConnell was unprincipled and acted out of purely partisan motives in 2016 when he single-handedly decided to blockade Mr. Obama’s choice to replace Antonin Scalia after the court icon’s death that February.

The bad faith behind McConnell’s position on Merrick Garland was obvious to anyone who was paying attention at the time and is a major reason why the public increasingly views the court as a partisan institution,” said Brian Fallon, who heads the progressive judicial advocacy group Demand Justice.

The declaration by Mr. McConnell suggests that the makeup of the Supreme Court will again be a central issue in the 2020 campaigns for the White House and the Senate, particularly with the intensifying fight over abortion rights. The Scalia vacancy was credited with significantly aiding Mr. Trump and cementing his support on the right in 2016. Democrats, stung by the 2016 loss and the failure to seat Judge Garland, have since tried to emphasize the political import of the Supreme Court to their voters through the emergence of groups like Mr. Fallon’s.

The distinction that Mr. McConnell and his allies draw is that in 2016, the process of filling the Supreme Court vacancy was split between Democrats who controlled the White House and Republicans who controlled the Senate. Voters had rendered a split decision, handing the executive to Mr. Obama in 2012 and the Senate to Mr. McConnell two years later, the majority leader argued; therefore, the tiebreaker would go to the winner of the 2016 campaign.

This is a line Mr. McConnell emphasized in October 2018 when he first began indicating that he was more than ready to take up a Trump nominee in 2020, should the chance arise.

“The tradition going back to the 1880s has been if a vacancy occurs in a presidential election year, and there is a different party in control of the Senate than the presidency, it is not filled,” he said.

Who is Mitch McConnell? Narrated by Jon Lovett from Pod Save America | NowThis

Mitch McConnell did everything he could to stonewall Obamacare, even though government health care once saved his life. Jon Lovett from Pod Saves America explains how the longest-serving GOP leader in Senate history went from Kentucky’s least believable frat boy to America’s Super PAC darling.

What Motivates Mitch McConnell?

The Senate majority leader has become one of the few unambiguous winners of the Trump presidency so We look at whether his gains have come with a cost.

.. Over the past decade, the Senate Republican leader has emerged as a skilled legislative warrior, obstructing President Barack Obama’s agenda and enabling President Trump’s. But what does Mitch McConnell himself actually believe in?

 

.. Background reading:

What Most Disqualifies Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court?

A book that every young man and woman starting out in life these days ought to have handy is Dariel Fitzkee’s “Magic by Misdirection,” a classic in the magical arts written decades ago by a once famous American performer. It basically tries to lay out all the varieties of misdirection—the ways that you can be asked to pay attention to one thing while the performer is doing another.

.. it’s a study in all the ways of drawing your attention away from this thing I’m doing here to that thing I’m doing there.

.. makes a distinction between, for instance, simulation and dissimulation: “Simulation is a positive act. It shows a false picture. Dissimulation is a negative act. It hides a true picture. One reveals and the other conceals.” A good magician can be simulating with one hand and dissimulating with the other, and you don’t know which is which.

.. Donald Trump’s genius for misdirection is to pile so many obvious ruses upon so many ham-handed sleights that the easily fooled parts of his audience are impressed by the audacity, while the more sophisticated parts of his audience, on left and right both, become so fatigued by the constant motion that they stop paying sufficient attention to the core point of the deception.

.. very often, the most brazen kinds of misdirection are the most successful, especially in the hands of a brazen performer.

.. Kavanaugh is not unqualified for the Supreme Court just because of something that he may have done when he was seventeen, or because of how he may have lied to the Senate about this or that specificity of his youthful behavior or about how he may have accepted illicitly obtained Democratic e-mails when he worked in the George W. Bush White House, or about his possible involvement in the effort to make torture seem acceptable. (Kavanaugh maintains innocence on all fronts.)

..  Trump’s purpose in appointing Kavanaugh to the Court was clearly to provide himself with a protective vote for whenever one issue or another arising from his misbehavior makes its way there

.. Kavanaugh’s convenient late-arriving conviction that Presidents should be protected from investigation—late arriving since he evidently felt very differently when he was pursuing Bill Clinton—is catnip to Trump.

.. anyone who had illusions about Kavanaugh not being an acolyte of Trumpism should have been disabused by his partisan performance last week, in which he made it quite apparent. That’s the deal. That’s the trick.

.. The maddening part of this misdirection is the unwillingness on the part of people who imagine themselves to be full of good will to say who Trump is and what he remains.

.. he is not uniquely responsible for the existence of a revanchist core of white men who so fear the assertion of minority power that they will go to almost any lengths, and make any deal with any devil, to prevent it. That core has been a consistent feature of American life since the post-Civil War period. President Ulysses S. Grant basically faced the same two parties: a party that accommodated what is now called identity politics, reaching out to a coalition of people—those African-American, Jewish, Native American, and Irish petitioners whom Grant tried to favor—who thought that the world was getting better and who supported some kind of benevolent government protection, and a party rooted in a base of revanchist whites who believed that the world was getting worse, who wanted to keep other groups from exercising too much political power, and who hated the federal government for helping them.

.. no sane person can accuse him of having been an immoderate or a non-conciliatory voice for his base.

.. his mistake was to vastly overestimate the reservoir of conciliation on the other side.

.. That’s why he tried to appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court—a judge who had been cited by Republicans as an acceptable candidate

.. Two-sidedness is, in itself, a classic piece of misdirection, designed to draw your attention as much to the hand that isn’t doing anything as to the hand that is.

.. No duly elected leader of any mature democratic state has gone on repeated public rants against his enemies, fed cries of “lock her up” directed at a political opponent, or routinely threatened and abused a free press.

.. there is no figure in the Democratic Party who in any respect shares Trump’s rhetoric or mirrors Trump’s threats or repeats Trump’s hatreds. Such figures exist only on the fringes of the left, whereas Trumpism has now become the central and defining faith of the Republican Party.

.. Kavanaugh is an instrument of Trumpism, an insurance policy that the con man is writing for himself. The rest is misdirection.